Understanding how to keep children safe online
This research explores children’s experiences of harm online, as well as understanding children’s and parents’ attitudes towards certain online protections.
Children face a range of risks online, and the harms they may experience can be complex and nuanced. The severity of harm can also vary between children. In light of this complexity, we need to understand the mechanisms by which online content and conduct may give rise to harm.
This research explored how different risk factors combine to increase the likelihood of harm to children. The findings help us understand what is needed to keep children safe online. We will use them to inform our online safety work, including our guidance to regulated services on how they meet their duties.
|Ethnographic report (PDF, 748.2 KB)||11 October 2022|
|Annex 1: Sample and methodology (PDF, 96.7 KB)||11 October 2022|
|Annex 2: Revealing Reality's safeguarding and ethics policy (PDF, 343.9 KB)||11 October 2022|
|Annex 3: information sheet for research participants and parents (PDF, 124.9 KB)||11 October 2022|
|Annex 4: Consent forms (PDF, 133.1 KB)||11 October 2022|
|Annex 5: Discussion guides (PDF, 340.2 KB)||11 October 2022|
|Annex 6: Stimulus and data capture (PDF, 542.9 KB)||11 October 2022|
|Annex 7: Diary tasks (PDF, 4.2 MB)||11 October 2022|
Our research has found that while most children between 8 and 17 have a profile on at least one social media platform, some are younger than the minimum age required to use that platform. When a child enters a false age to gain access to the platform, as they get older, so does their false 'user age'. This puts them at greater risk of encountering age-inappropriate or potentially harmful content.
We wanted to estimate the proportion of children who have a false 'user age' on their online profile, making them appear older than they actually are.
|Chart pack (PDF, 443.6 KB)||28 November 2023|
|Data tables (XLSX, 1.5 MB)||28 November 2023|
|Data file (SAV, 6.6 MB)||28 November 2023|
|Questionnaire (PDF, 251.6 KB)||28 November 2023|
|Technical report (PDF, 392.9 KB)||28 November 2023|
|User age calculation scenarios flow map (PDF, 495.2 KB)||28 November 2023|
|Chart pack (PDF, 992.6 KB)||11 October 2022|
|Data tables (XLSX, 932.2 KB)||11 October 2022|
|Data tables (user age data only) (XLSX, 33.3 KB)||11 October 2022|
Social media platforms publish advice on staying safe online, but there are concerns that children don’t engage with this information. Serious games have been shown to help engage people with content to improve their safety online, but there is limited empirical evidence on this.
Ofcom’s Behavioural Insight Hub designed a simple serious game, and carried out a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) to test the effectiveness of a serious game to keep children safe online.
|Results (PDF, 1.2 MB)||11 October 2022|
|Trial protocol document (PDF, 903.6 KB)||11 October 2022|